Man was created to be in relationship with God. In the Garden of Eden, man enjoyed the ability to stand in God’s presence, to look on His face and to walk and talk with Him. But when sin entered the world through man’s disobedience, man could no longer stand in God’s presence. Man was banished from the Garden, from the presence of God, and cherubim and a flaming sword were placed at the entrance to the Garden (Genesis 2:23-24).
But God still desired for man to be in relationship with Him. He established a covenant with man that required sacrifice to atone for sin. When Moses built the tabernacle, the only person who could enter the Most Holy Place, the place where His presence could be found, was Aaron, the high priest. The Most Holy Place was covered by a curtain through which only Aaron could enter. But Aaron could do so only after first bringing both a sin offering and a burnt offering (Leviticus 16:3).
When Solomon built the temple, the Most Holy Place was covered by a curtain made of blue, purple and crimson yarn and fine linen. Woven into the fabric of the curtain were images of cherubim, the very beings who guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden (2 Chronicles 3:14). The Ark of the Covenant, on which the presence of God would rest, was placed behind the curtain. God’s presence was hidden from all but the high priest and, as with Aaron, the high priest could only enter following a sacrifice for the atonement of sin.
Through His Son, Jesus Christ, God has established a new covenant with man. When Jesus died on the cross, providing the perfect sacrifice for our sins, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:37-38). God was removing the curtain from the Most Holy Place. Because of the sacrifice of the great High Priest, Jesus, we can once again stand in God’s presence. When we turn our hearts and our lives to Jesus, we can once again have that relationship with God that He intended when we were created.
The curtain that covered the Most Holy Place, that kept us from God’s presence, is our sin. Jesus died to take away that sin. When we turn to Him and follow Him, the curtain of our sin is removed and we can once again stand in God’s presence.